JOINT Heathcote District league netball coach Anna-Grace Close has praised her players' never say die attitude and commitment to the cause following a thrilling one goal win over Sunraysia on Saturday.
The HDFNL, which was seeking back-to-back AFL Victoria Community Championships wins after a victory against Geelong District last year, fought for dear life in a tense final term and was able to stave off the home side by a solitary goal.
Gun White Hills goal shooter Ashley Gilmore proved pivotal in the nail-biting ending, brushing off the effects of a broken finger to be a calming influence under the ring for a committed HDFNL.
Earlier, Heathcote District led by six goals at quarter time, but were gradually pegged back throughout the course of the game, with the lead changing several times in the last quarter.
An elated Close, who shared the coaching duties with Jan Mannes, could not hide her emotion following the nerve-racking win.
"We are absolutely stoked - super happy to get the win," the star defender said.
"It was an up and down game, they fought hard for four quarters and in the end it took all nine of us to get over the line.
"We made some last minute defensive changes after they got a run on in the last quarter, but we were able to come out on top
"The last half we had plenty of defensive pressure, which was pretty crucial."
Close was awarded the medal as the opposition coach's pick as best on court, while her White Hills team-mate Danni Wee-Hee won the award as the umpires' best.
Medals aside, Close said every single player had contributed heavily to the win.
"Everyone played their role and we were able to convert on our turnovers and that was a big factor in us getting across the line," she said.
"Whether we won or loss, we were always going to be winners at the end of the day.
"There's so much mutual respect between the girls; getting to know the girls on a personal level has been awesome.
"The footballers too got right around us - it was a great league outing."
The victorious side featured five White Hills premierships players from last season, including Bronte Deary and Rhian Moresi, Huntly's Ash Jenkyn, Elmore's Isabel Nichol-Smith, and Leitchville Gunbower duo Bronte Gundry and Emmalea Wishart.
While inter-league might be done and dusted again for 12 months, Close said she would not hesitate to take on the role again in 2020 if asked.
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